StyleHaul, an online video community focused on fashion and beauty, raised $6.5 million in Series B funding from Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.
Launched in February 2011, the bicoastal firm features video content makers called vloggers, or video bloggers. The video community resides on YouTube, and has grown to over 1,500 channels across 38 countries. The firm boasts 50 million unique viewers a month.
Stephanie Horbaczewski, StyleHaul’s cofounder and chief executive officer, said, “The funding [enables] us to add to our senior-level executives and expand our direct sales force efforts.”
It recently hired Alvin Fong, who previously held the position of vice president at both Internet Brands and Yahoo, as chief operating officer.
She said that the company is also “exploring other platforms it can work with outside of YouTube, such as Facebook.”
While StyleHaul is not yet profitable, Horbaczewski said it might be at the end of this year, depending on the opportunities that could come up.
According to Fong, the company has a following among the Portuguese-speaking population abroad through StyleHaul Mundo, the Spanish-Portuguese arm of StyleHaul. He is presently looking to build the Brazilian operation, where the site has 1.9 million subscribers. Brazil’s beauty market is the second largest in the world after the U.S., Fong said.
Sim Blaustein, principal at BDMI, said, “As a media company, we think about verticals and content verticals. Fashion gets our attention. More interestingly is how brands are built offline and in the media world….Video is a great platform for fashion and style. All of those things come together in a company like StyleHaul.”
Blaustein noted that video first got his attention when he saw teen girls in malls carrying shopping bags and talking online. “YouTube is the social network for tweens and teens,” he said.
BDMI is a digital-media-focused fund that’s a division of global media firm Bertelsmann, and Blaustein will become a StyleHaul board member.
Julie Rollauer, Google’s head of industry for beauty, said, “Watching videos has become a core part of the shopping process, and it’s influencing purchase decisions. We found that four out of 10 people who watched a video on YouTube then visited a store online or in person to check out the product. Brands are realizing the importance of engaging with this audience of shoppers on YouTube, and are partnering with networks and vloggers to reach them.”
According to Google, 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations, and that an unscripted experience such as those delivered on YouTube by “someone like me” provides both authenticity and individuality. YouTube is a subsidiary of Google.
Previously, StyleHaul in February 2012 raised $4.4 million in a Series A round led by investment firm RezVen Partners.